If injury strikes during their 10-day cruise through the bloodstream, platelets flock toward the scene of a cut or bruise to engage their signature superpower: clotting.

 

But platelets also release so-called growth factors that help repair soft tissues – blood vessels, skin, muscle, tendons – and recruit other cells to speed the healing process. Those capabilities have made platelet-rich plasma an emerging treatment option for certain joint injuries and post-operative therapies.

 

Now researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have incorporated platelet-rich plasma into a bio-ink: a 3-D-printed mixture of cells and gel that could eventually become the stuff of skin grafts and regenerative tissue implants.